The POWER of Mindset

Jim Williams
Dec 12, 2023

I had a chance to speak to 3rd year business school students this month and was absolutely thrilled to spend time with and learn from them.

In my speaking engagements I try to create content that is unique to my audience. I often like to find a problem, or problems they are trying to solve and craft my message to that end. It was interesting to use an AI application to pose a question, “What are 3rd year college students thinking about”? The response was somewhat predictable, these are not in any particular order.

1. How will I find a job in my chosen field?

2. How will I build the network I need to get the right job, internship?

3. How do I balance my extracurricular activities and my academics?

4. Should I go to grad school, do I have the grades for it?

5. How do I pay my student loans back?

As I shared these with the 30 business school students in the room, they looked and the slide on the screen, most of them nodding. I asked them if they agreed with what the saw, many shaking their head, yes.

As we got to know each other in these first few minutes I saw their body language change. I have often found that when you make an interaction about the other person/people the vibe changes. I learned this many years ago, being trained on how to deliver messages, good and bad to audiences. Downloading information is generally what talks, speeches are. Your ability to personalize a talk with a group, hooks them and keeps them was what I was taught, I have to admit that it still seems to work.

I then took some time to compliment them on the business overview presentations I had seen them make two days earlier. They worked as teams to deliver an overview of each company, with a focus on their risk management profile. It was fun to watch them in action, they all did well. Some of it sounded so familiar as I had done business with or competed against three of the companies being covered, Tesla, Ford, and Target. I had spent a lot of time thinking about Target when I worked for Best Buy, not only because they sold hundreds of millions of dollars a year in Consumer Electronics products with, but they also always competed with us for talent. Target had a very good reputation as an employer, and we would work to steal their management; mostly for their merchandising prowess but also because they believed in people and treated them as such. Hearing about Tesla and Ford brought me back to serving them as customers. Tesla was a super interesting company when I served them during my time at Cox Automotive. We moved a lot of cars for them in the logistics business I ran, and we did a fair number of remarketing services for them too. Back then, not sure if it’s the same now they essentially ran the company on Google Docs, it was a little crazy. Of course, now the company has a market cap of almost 800 billion, they haven’t even been around for 20 years. Ford, well they have been making cars for 100 years and that business is worth around 45 billion, it makes you wonder, WHY?

It was a great segue into the center of my presentation, the POWER OF MINDSET. Say what you want about Elon Musk but his mindset around innovation, the future, his work ethic, the way in which he runs his companies, well let’s just say the market loves it. Compare that to Ford who is on their third CEO in less than 10 years and frankly, with a stock price at 10 bucks a share, there aren’t many betting on their future.

We spent our remaining time together talking about the other elements of the Getting Thru Mindset Framework, BERGS. Belief, Empathy, Resilience, Gratitude and Service. I shared how Kyle had taught me this as a 6-year-old boy and I have made it my own. I explained that he didn’t just tell me these simple truths; he lived them, every day. As they looked up at a slide that had a picture of him healthy and 5 and then stricken with cancer at 6 years old you could see them making the connections to the power of mindset and how what Kyle taught me and how it’s got me thru his illness, passing and all the other challenges that I have faced over the last 10 plus years. We agreed that having a mindset that gets you thru is what really matters. It doesn’t have to be the framework that I have come to believe it, but you MUST have one. When you make your mindset part of your why, your purpose it’s likely that you get thru just about anything life can throw at you, personally and professionally.

As I ended my presentation, I opened the floor to questions. I often measure the quality of a presentation by the number of questions being asked at the end. They asked 6 great ones and I believe had we been given more time together they might have asked 6-10 more. What a great group of people, I left wanting more time with them, more time for me to learn from them, it was awesome.

In the hours after the meeting, I got about a half a dozen linked in connection requests and two emails asking me for one-on-one time to help frame career goals and aspirations, I am incredibly humbled.

If this presentation is any indication the power of mindset is going to be great fodder for future talks and life lessons being learned and taught.

- Jim